The $200 cup of tea

macbook pro trackpad

I spilled tea on my trackpad. Then it started acting weird.

Dilemma: call my 2011 computer a loss and get a new one or have the old one fixed?

Fixing the old computer won the day.

$200 later, and it works just as good as new.

I love my old MacBook Pro. Years ago, I upgraded the memory and hard drive, and it still works fine. It’s fast enough for just about everything, and it even has a built-in CD-DVD drive, which comes in handy every once in a while. (I even used that earlier today!)

Kudos to Mac Outlet for the fine job.


Why I love my Apple stuff

Screen shot of a cell phone manual I took a photo over the weekend with my cheap phone, and wanted to share it with my friend who was in the picture.

I couldn’t.

Why? The image was about 25 pixels square. Somehow when my daughter was playing around with the phone’s camera, she changed the resolution. For me to find out how to change the resolution back, I had to find the box the phone came in, dig out the CD that had the manual on it, copy that file to my computer – and then search for the answer. (Manual is shown at the left.)

The phone settings area on the phone was not where the resolution setting was. It was buried deeper in another menu.

I’m not saying Apple is perfect – often I can find an answer to my Mac question faster by doing a Google search than by using its built-in help files. But I am saying that Apple mostly gets it right, when it comes to usability issues like this.

If you haven’t tried an Apple product, I’d suggest you start with an iPod. You might be amazed.


A very sad day

Steve Jobs RIPSteve died yesterday (October 5, 2011).

He made a huge impact on humanity – and how we relate to technology.

Apologies to Apple, who probably won’t mind my re-posting their front page.


Apple Design decisions

I’ve always thought it was strange that Apple went in opposite directions for their iPad and iPhone lines.

Version 1 of the iPad has rectangular edges. Version 2 has a clamshell design.

The iPhone? Version 3 has a clamshell design. Version 4 has rectangular edges.

Apple is going divergent directions with these two product lines.

Preference for me? I like the clamshell.


They are selling a lifestyle

lifestyle-ipadOne evening, I watched all of Apple’s iPad videos. But then, I’m a fanboy, so it was fun.

I noticed a few things – none of the models were older than about 32. I remember seeing a kid in only one. The rooms that each video was shot in were perfect. The models represented a little politically-correct ethnic diversity. (I think the mix was fairly close to what their real life buyers might be – maybe the videos were a little heavy on the African-American side.)

None of this was surprising to me.

Apple is selling a lifestyle. “If you buy an iPad, you will look like this.”

Don’t buy that. (But if you can afford it and can actually use one, do buy an iPad. Or at least buy and use a coffee press.)

And finally, since today is earth day, I would ask you to consider not buying that next “thing” on your list, whether it’s an iPad or a coffee press. Instead, use the thing you already have and make it work. That choice will be very green, if you care about such matters.


I lied

ipad-emailWell, not really.

But I was not able to stay away from the iPad. No, I didn’t buy one. But I did visit the Apple Store last night (separate from the opening day, when I did not go in the store, as previously reported). My sons and I tried out the iPad. We all liked it a lot!

A few observations:

– It would not rotate from landscape to portrait in some apps. (The rotation lock switch could have been turned on and I didn’t know it. I discovered its existence after leaving the store.)

– The interface was not intuitive on Pages (the Word equivalent). I couldn’t find tools in the page view.

– The keyboard takes some getting used to. If I bought one, I’d grab a bluetooth keyboard right away.

– I guess I’m used to the traditional Mac interface – not having access to the Finder would take some getting used to. (I do a lot with files.)

Advantages of Amazon’s Kindle? You can read it in direct sunlight. It has longer battery life. More titles are available. Everything else? iPad.

I had fun making my site the home page for Safari on some of the demo units. (My website hits will go up artificially till the store personnel fix that.) Also, one of my sons made the screen background on some of the demo units look like a page filled with app icons – stealth little trick! Alas, though – the Apple Store resets them every morning, so our little tricks lasted just a few hours.

Verdict? It looks like a great new toy (and useful work device, for many). If I could afford one, I’d add it to my toy chest. Alas, not for a while! And finally, David Pogue has a great FAQ page on the iPad here. And don’t forget to check out the great explanatory videos on the Apple site.


The scent of an iPad

ipad-launchI visited the nearest Apple Store just before Saturday’s launch of the iPad.

I should clarify – I went to see how long the line was, a half an hour before the opening, so I could take this photo for you. Then I left.

What for? Somehow being that close to the launch was enough for me.

I can’t explain why.

(By the way, the security guard said some people had been waiting in line since around midnight, the night before.)


It would be a stretch

10-billionApple sends me emails. I’m happy about that.

The most recent had a little feature on the coming sale of their ten billionth download. That in itself is amazing. And I could preach about how the artists would be so much better off if Apple would give them just one cent more for each song they provide! (But I won’t.)

My single comment is… if I won a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card, I wouldn’t know what to do with it! In my wildest dreams, I might be able to burn through about $2,000 of iTunes songs and movies – but it would take me many hours to spend it! I could not afford the time it would take to do such a prize justice.


iPad review

ipadYes, Apple’s iPad was released yesterday.

I think it will sell a massive amount. Basically, it’s a Kindle, an iPod Touch, and a keyboard-less* MacBook, all rolled into one. It has a much prettier interface than the Kindle. You can do anything that requires the internet when you have a wifi connection – or if you don’t (and spend more), you can do it cellular-ly via AT&T (in some parts of the USA). It sounds like there will be a reasonable deal on that too – $30 for one month’s unlimited data service.

Some of the apps look to be pushed even further than their Mac or iPhone equivalents. And they are reasonably priced ($30 instead of $79 for the full iWork suite).

Prices range from $499 to $829, depending on storage capacity (16-64 gb) and whether you add the 3G internet connection capability. Sounds like a deal to me – for what you get! Availability? “Sign up here, and we’ll contact you when iPad is available to order.” (Could be two weeks. But I’d guess a month-and-a-half.)

For me? I won’t be getting one anytime soon, because I can’t afford it – and because I’m too shy to be that cutting-edge. But if someone gave me one? I’d suck up my pride and settle for being that cutting edge.

(Photo from the Apple site.) *You will be able to get an external keyboard – but it will probably cost something outrageous like $79.


Why Mac, part 237


If a program exists called “Decrapifier” – then something is wrong with the system.

Macs just don’t get automatically slowed-down by malware, spyware, spamware, etc.

Bear with me – my wife uses a Windows computer, so I am speaking from experience. Her computer is always getting slower and slower. If it were easy to do, she might reinstall her software every week, just to keep things running smoothly.

I’m not saying this to create a division in the ranks – I’m just asking that if you are considering a new computer, please look at Macs. Be sure to go with an Apple factory refurb – full warranty and you save 15-20%.